*DISCLAIMER: This story is entirely fictional. Any similarities to real life events or people is purely coincidental and not meant to provoke any negative reactions.
“There’s a letter for you on the kitchen counter,” my husband shouts to me as he picks up his car keys, “see you tonight, darling!” I routinely start up the coffee machine, as I wave him goodbye, and pick up the small envelope. Casually, I open the letter with my teeth as I pick my favourite brand of coffee. However, when I see the watermark at the top of the page, I almost drop my mug. It’s from Bovensmilde. Within a split second all memories I have suppressed for years suddenly resurface. 41 years ago I was one of the 105 children victims of the 1977 school hijacking (Duursma, 2012). The letter brings me back to the fear I felt during those horrific few days. It changed my life forever, but I try to never think, or talk, about it now. Shortly after our release my parents moved away to the other side of the country. I never received any help to process what had happened to me at such a young age and at home we never talked about it. Just like the entire community and nation, we stayed silent. Shakily, I take a deeep breath to steady myself and continue reading. It’s an invitation for another commemoration. Every year I throw the letter away unopened, but I’m turning 50 years old this year. And, as my psychologist stressed: confrontation is necessary for healing. For another second I hesitate before I clear my schedule for the 23rd of May. I must be there this time. It is time for me to confront my past and see Bovensmilde again for the first time in decades.
|Picture of the hijacking in 1977 (Jan de Vries, Dagblad van het Noorden)|
|The school bus on the mosaic bench in Bovensmilde (own picture)|
Duursma, M. "Het verdriet van Bovensmilde." NRC.nl. 24 May, 2012, from https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2012/05/24/het-verdriet-van-bovensmilde-12319712-a1231238.
Gardner, M. E. "The Heritagescape: Looking at Landscapes of the Past." International Journal of Heritage Studies 12, no. 5 (2006): 394-411.
BY: MD, AD, NH, TB